The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 9, 2012

Stonycreek chosen River of the Year in online voting

Dave Hurst and Bernie Hornick

JOHNSTOWN — The Stonycreek River, a reborn waterway that now hosts fishing and whitecap kayaking, was named Pennsylvania’s River of the Year on Monday through online voting.

Officials continue to hold high hopes that the river will emerge as a major economic driver, drawing hundreds of boaters with a whitewater release valve on the Quemahoning Reservoir.

“This is great recognition,” Len Lichvar, director of the Somerset County Conservation District, said of the river that suffered decades of acid-mine drainage.

The honor comes with a $10,000 grant.

“When little Johnny catches fish in places where his grandfather couldn’t, that’s where you can tell the difference,” he said. “This river was essentially lifeless.”

The scenic Stonycreek supports 22 fish species, according to the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, and part of the river near the Que is becoming a coldwater trout fishery.

In addition, Somerset County is pushing for grant money to improve the waterfront in Hollsopple and make the town more hospitable to boaters.

Officials hope bed and breakfasts, boating shops and restaurants will sprout there.

Already in Johnstown, a tubing business has taken hold.

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